Coming Soon to Your TV: Targeted Political Ads

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Those who subscribe to satellite TV will soon see political campaign ads that are meant specifically for their household.

Although advertisers pay big bucks for some TV ads — $4 million for a 30-second ad during Super Bowl XLVIII (viewership could exceed 111.3 million) — they’ve long sought a way to home in on their target consumers.

Now there’s a way for them to target some households with specific political ads, reports The Washington Post:

Dish Network and DirecTV … announced a plan to jointly give political advertisers the ability to microtarget their ads down to the household level. That means that any of over 20 million homes in the United States will soon start getting highly personalized campaign spots that were meant just for them.

Are you afraid that viewing “Hawaii 5-0” on CBS or maybe “Duck Dynasty”on A&E will label you as a Republican or Democrat? Or, who knows what else? True, we have told you that some cable providers including Verizon were considering building monitoring systems into cable boxes.

But that time isn’t here for Dish and DirecTV. TV execs tell the Los Angeles Times these new targeted ads aren’t based on what you watch. According to the Times:

… executives at DirecTV and Dish say they’re not looking at viewing data. At all. Instead, said Dave Shull, Dish’s chief commercial officer, the companies rely on the lists of Republicans, Democrats and independents that have been compiled by political campaigns and other third parties. The campaigns simply have better ways of identifying someone’s political leanings than DirecTV or Dish could develop from analyzing what people watch, Shull said.

So how does it work? The Washington Post explains:

While your set-top box is idle, it’ll tune into a channel that’s playing the ad you’re meant to see. It’ll record the ad using DVR, then insert it into your regular programming while you’re watching a show — replacing or bumping the ad that was supposed to air instead. This can be replicated for any household that subscribes to Dish or DirecTV, so a political strategist can pick you out and feed you a unique message.

So you might want to think twice before hitting fast-forward; the TV ads could be more interesting to you than you think.

Stacy Johnson

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